The World Ends With You:
The World Ends With You was one of my favourite Nintendo DS games. Its Japanese setting was a blast, its strange story about death was compelling and its characters were… well, we’ll get to that. But it was in its completely unique, dual-screened gameplay that TWEWY won my heart – so much so that I was worried how it would adapt to a single screen.
Does it work, or does Final Remix simply prove that this was a one-hit wonder to begin with?
There’s an existential hook to The World Ends With You that I’m not sure I fully appreciated in my teens. The game revolves around a contest that seeks to judge humanity, whilst offering its recently deceased competitors a second chance at life. You play as Neku, a teen who was never all that good at the whole ‘social interaction’ dealio. He has more hang ups than a coat rack, and spends the first chunk of the game being a brat to everyone who comes into contact with him.
It’s a little tiring, honestly – I have significantly less patience with the ‘rude teen’ trope than when I used to be one. Regardless of my own feelings, however, Neku is a kid who you want to see evolve – and to its credit the game allows him to grow into something far less egregious in a meaningful way.
The game’s hook – fighting it out for a chance of resurrection – against the other contestants, the reapers and the various bad dudes you encounter is pretty interesting stuff, and I definitely got something different out of it playing for the second time. It’s in the same vein as other weird Japanese titles, such as Danganronpa, and clearly benefits from repeat playthroughs.
Okay let’s get this out of the way – please do not play Final Remix on your TV. The game allows you to do so with some questionable motion controls, but these are so inferior to the clearly intended touch screen controls of portable mode that I wonder if it shouldn’t have been left out altogether and sold as a handheld-only experience.
Final Remix feels like a port that’s constantly struggling against its limitations. It knows it is going to be an inferior product to the original (because without two screens it simply can’t play as it once did) and the team appear to be trying to mitigate that inevitable disappointment at every turn. To their credit – in handheld mode at least – the Switch port is about as good as it can be. The combat system is still unique, intuitive and, for the most part, fun.
Collecting badges to help you in fights and taking enemies down with allies is still a great time once you get used to the initially complicated battle system, and the game gives you plenty of reasons to mix up your loadouts until you find the perfect one. The intensity and, occasionally, the confusion of the combat mechanics fit surprisingly well as the story ups the ante.
Thankfully, whilst the gameplay feels like its playing catch-up to its older sibling, the visual presentation is fresh and sharp here. The graphics are significantly spruced up from the DS original, and the game has a clean and vibrant look that really sells the Shibuya setting.
The soundtrack is just as killer as ever, too, delivering one of the best JRPG scores I’ve heard since… well, probably the original.
The World Ends With You is still a brilliant game. If you missed it on the DS, I cannot recommend this port enough – especially as you won’t have anything to compare it to. And if, like me, you’re due a replay, then it’s a pretty neat way to do it – especially with the HD graphics and added post-game content. But whoever you are and whatever you’ve played before, just make sure to play it in handheld. It’s the only way to play.